The U.S. Middle Pacific Naval Fleet received two new additions as the guided-missile destroyers USS Preble (DDG 88) and USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) arrived to their new homeport of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) August 14 and 15 from San Diego.
The move was orchestrated to provide updated advanced Aegis capabilities to Commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific (COMNAVSURFGRU MIDPAC) in an effort to maintain the most robust and capable force possible.
Rear Adm. Rick Williams, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, welcomed both ships to Hawaii, noting the advanced capabilities they bring to the Middle Pacific Fleet.
USS Preble arrived at JBPHH as a replacement for the guided-missile frigate Reuben James (FFG 57), which was decommissioned July 18, 2013, and will serve as a MIDPAC surface combatant to reinforce maritime operations in the region.
Cmdr. Robert T. Bryans, commanding officer of USS Preble, said he looked forward to bringing USS Preble’s advanced capabilities to the region and being a part of the MIDPAC team.
As a new addition to MIDPAC, Sonar Technician Surface 2nd Class Chan Wakefield said the crew aboard USS Preble aims to answer the operational demands of the region, as well as take advantage of the rare opportunity of being homeported in Hawaii.
Currently the most technologically advanced ship within the Ballistics Missile Defense (BMD) program, USS John Paul Jones will operate as a rotational BMD deployer, and testing ship, as part of a long-range U.S. commitment to the security and stability of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
The move also allowed the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) to proceed to San Diego for a scheduled, extended docking ship repair availability(EDSRA).
Cmdr. Andrew Thomson, commanding officer of USS John Paul Jones, said his crew has proven that they are ready to assume the role as the Navy’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense test ship. In the coming years, the ship is expected to test newer and more advanced systems that will be used to defend the nation and allied forces overseas, Thomson said.
USS Lake Erie is scheduled to replace USS John Paul Jones as a rotational BMD deployer out of San Diego once the EDSRA is complete.